Tag Archives: things i’m thinking about

the one where i’m thinking about discipleship

i’ll just warn you … it’s monday, and my pastor preached a good one yesterday. which got me thinking some thinks (which we all know is dangerous and leads to another rambling blog post). between getting my non-so-inner nerd fired up in the sermon, a really great time of catching up and planning with my co-small group leader, and a thought provoking work meeting last night, my brain is about to spill over.

first, that catching up/planning: C and i work hard to meet up every week (or as often as possible if weekly doesn’t work out)- to catch up, reconnect, talk about how her relationship with her boyfriend is going, drink coffee, dream dreams for the ladies in our small group, and plan group for the next couple of weeks. we try to make sure that one of us is aware of what’s happening on the church calendar, in the lives of our ladies, etc. this weekend, our conversation centered on kicking off the new year. we’re switching the day the group meets, nailing down the things we know about that will disrupt our regular group meetings, working on the calendar, and planning for the study we’re doing as a group (spoiler alert: we’re doing the sermon based curriculum because thewholebibleinayear). we also talked about a problem we’ve been experiencing (and that we hear from many other small group leaders)- people who just won’t commit … or say they do, but rarely show up and rarely communicate. let me go ahead and say that we have a fantastic small group! but like any other group of single, young professionals, life has a way of getting really full, really fast. i realized that we talk about commitment to group, encourage communication, etc, but something is still apparently missing. we all love each other, yes; but we are not all constructing our lives around our community. yes, i know that the idea i just said sounds super cultish and controlling; no, i didn’t say it wrong. hear me out:

i read several articles on discipleship that have been simmering in the back of my mind for a couple of months now. some were written as part of a series, the others happened to be along a similar vein … but like i said, i’ve been ruminating. there are two main ideas here: imitation (not just being a copycat- think paul’s numerous exhortations to ‘imitate me as i imitate christ), and doctrine. imitation is a concept that i think goes against the grain for many of us – we are indoctrinated with ‘you do you’ and radical individualism, not to mention the idea that our version of morality is the one that counts, and that we should follow our hearts. we are willing to accept the theory that following christ is counter-cultural – and even to act on it, to a degree- but we balk at the idea of taking it as far as patterning every aspect of our lives around looking like jesus. one article talked about it this way:

3 Strands of Disciple-Making

1. Informing – What We Believe

Part of disciple-making is helping people understand what they believe. It includes the inculcation of information, the teaching of biblical facts and Christian doctrines.

2. Instructing – What We Do

Another part of disciple-making is helping people adopt the practices that make up the Christian life. We walk alongside others, modeling for them what it looks like to live the way of Christ.

3. Imitating – How We Reason

But there’s a third part of disciple-making that is necessary, something a full-orbed vision of “imitation” gives us. This strand refers to helping people reason like Christians who have been formed by “what we believe” and “what we do.” The imitation of reasoning is especially needed on issues where clear instructions are not present in Scripture.

If you only focus on the first two elements (informing and instructing), then you wind up with people who are not fully equipped to respond to the conundrums they encounter in life.

What does your disciple do when he or she confronts an issue that isn’t resolved by the checklist of doctrines to believe, or the common practices of the Christian life?

another article (same author) uses ‘apprenticeship’ language:

Teaching and the Modeling of the Christian Life

The biblical vision of teaching, particularly with its emphasis on apprenticeship, opens up new windows as to how “teaching” needs to include both the delivery of Christian truth and the modeling of a Christian lifestyle. Belief and action go together. Schaeffer again: “It seems to me that the real question is what we really believe. It seems to me that we do tend to have two creeds—the one which we believe in our intellectual assent, and then the one which we believe to the extent of acting upon it in faith. More and more it seems to me that the true level of our orthodoxy is measured by this latter standard rather than the former. And more and more it seems to me that there is no such thing as an abstract Christian dogma—that each Christian dogma can be experienced on some level.” So dogma and experience go together. How does that shape our vision of “teaching”? In particular, what does “teaching them” in the Great Commission refer to? Sermons? Bible studies? Lectures? Maybe. But there’s a clue there in the text itself. Teaching them to obey all that Christ has commandedThis necessarily involves both modeling and verbal teaching.

one of the other articles rolling around in my head is one i’ve already posted about a couple of times- this author uses ‘improvisation’ & ‘development’ language: Why Theology Matters

Developing doctrine in the church is one more in a series of improvisations: the disciples’ story is an improvisation on the history of Israel. Jesus Christ is himself an improvisation on a covenant theme: God’s steadfast love and righteousness. In each case, there is both creativity (newness) and fidelity to what preceded (sameness). Improvisation accents the importance of both speaking and acting out faith’s understanding. The development of doctrine belongs not to speculative but to pastoral theology. In each case, doctrine helps the church to know what to say, think, and do in the face of new challenges. // The development of doctrine is a matter of thinking biblically in new situations.Scripture shapes our vision of the whole, instills mental habits, forms the desire of our hearts, and trains us in the way of discipleship. Doctrine is essential for training in discipleship, and that includes missiological improvisation—knowing how to go on in the same gospel way in different situations. // Doctrinal development is ultimately a matter of the church’s faith improvisation in accordance with the Scriptures and with earlier faithful improvisations (e.g., creedal formulations). The development of doctrine is part and parcel of the mission of the church. Doctrine helps disciples individually and corporately to make right decisions about what to say and do in order to participate rightly in and continue the same drama of redemption in which Israel, Jesus Christ, and the apostles played leading parts. The purpose of theology is to make disciples, players in God’s drama of redemption who are able to play their parts with faithful and creative understanding.

i think my church does a great job with the doctrine end of the equation … and i’d like to think i do the same in regards to my small group. but maybe i’m not as strong on the imitation end as i’d like to be. some of that could come from a distinct lack of available female mentors- there are terribly few women who are both worth imitating and available enough relationaly to imitate. there is indeed a need for titus 2 relationship (older women teaching younger women), and i’ll confess to having a hard time finding that in my life. but even that doesn’t give me a pass- i have the scriptures at my disposal and the holy spirit indwelling me.

i also think my church has a good sense of ‘community’ (which can be kind of ambiguously defined sometimes), but i think there is a distinction to be made between community and the kind of discipleship that includes imitation/apprenticeship/development. too often we equate those things with mere proximity, and leave out the intensity of relationship that brings about change. the way i hear community defined most often is ‘doing life together’ … i don’t disagree with that definition- i have a community (friends, small group ladies, family) that i ‘do life with’. we eat meals together, some of us ever grocery shop together!, we spend hours talking about nothing at all and everything at the same time, we worship together, we confess sin to one another, we learn about the word together … but those are not the kind of relationships i’m talking about here. i am a big fan of this kind of relational discipleship, but i can’t help but feel there is something lacking.

am i the only one who thinks this? i know this has gotten convoluted and is now allthethoughts. hopefully, it’s no secret that i love theology and discipleship. it is a credit to those who discipled me first (shout out to my peeps at word of life!) that i don’t consciously separate what i know from how i (try to) live. the more i disciple others, the more i am realizing that this isn’t normal … and that it is a major difficulty in most discipleship relationships. i also didn’t realize until now that i didn’t have a way to articulate this (since i was taught not to separate the two). i’m finding it troubling and helpful all at the same time.

this has gotten lengthy, so i’ll get to the sermon thoughts and work stuff another time … be warned 😉

a couple of other posts that influenced this one: is it arrogant to tell other christians to imitate your example? and recovering the role of imitation in discipleship today.

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the one where he won’t give up.

today has been one of those days where i’m not just reminded that God is at work in & around me- that work is literally all i can see today.

from a couple of encounters with people this weekend to the series we’re in as a church, i keep coming back to this: God created us for communion with him, and for good works. the beautiful and mysterious part of this is that it is God himself who made a way for us to be in communion with him (coming to earth as Jesus, living perfectly, and dying in our place to atone for our sins), and it is God who does good works through us (the ministry of the Holy Spirit). anything good, any growth, comes from God.

there are moments, like right now, where i say AND believe that God is powerful enough to save and change even the worst of us. i know that the cross proves his love, and the resurrection proves his power- if God can raise Jesus from the dead, he can (and wants to) save anyone. he can (and wants to) walk with us as he removes what is dead and decaying in us- hate, fear, despair. he wants us to live in real color, and for his power and goodness to be displayed in us. there is no good in this life apart from him, and he does have good in store for us!

we know this, at least in theory. but i know we can all think of someone that we don’t think it applies to. someone that maybe we are or used to be friends with who has really screwed up their lives (and maybe the lives of others, too). we may have tried to walk with them, we may have tried to help them, we may have gotten burned … and in our hurt or anger, written them off. and i think there does come a point in some relationships where we have to say ‘i believe that God wants to heal you, but it’s possible that i might not be part of that healing’ and some healthy distance might need to happen; but more often than not, we simply write that person off. we say with our lives that we don’t believe that God is powerful enough (or that he doesn’t love that person enough) to heal that person.

for every story we have about how we’ve seen the power of the gospel transform someone’s life, there is a story of someone we don’t believe the gospel is powerful enough to touch.

today has revolved around conversations of how i’ve seen God prove me wrong when i believed he wasn’t powerful enough to transform someone. i actually think he takes pleasure in proving me wrong! i think he loves to remind me that he is good, that he is powerful, and that he is in the business of making dry bones dance, and making dead things come alive.

being told that i was wrong isn’t usually on my list of favorite things, but i’m loving it today.

higher than the mountains that i face

stronger than the power of the grave

constant in the trial and the change

this one thing remains

you love never fails

never gives up

never runs out on me

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the one where i might be an escape artist.

i like to consider myself a reader.

up until last year, i probably read about 100 books a year, easily. but somewhere in there, there was a shift. i think part of it was just that i wanted to be busy, so i spent more time in coffee shops with people. i started watching more TV. my sister moved in. we got a dog. my job got more demanding and my schedule wasn’t as free.

[side note: there is a boy standing outside the coffee shop i’m sitting in and i swear i have never seen pants that tight on a guy. like, YIKES tight. i can’t un-see that. send help and $1200!]

i went to the beach with my family over the summer, which was a week of absolute bliss. (except for the awful piece of fabric they tried to call a mattress. my back has never been the same.) we laid out in the sun, mostly stayed out of the water (hello, 8+ shark attacks in NC this year), talked life and deep mysteries with my sister, argued about politics with my dad, walked the beach with my mom, and READ NINE books. that is more than one per day that we were gone! all fiction. most that i would entertain the notion of reading again. all new authors- i had not read their works before. i’ve added 7 more books to the tally since then, and i’m sure there were a few earlier in the year- i lose track of the ones i read in the kindle app on my phone- but the total is somewhere around 30 … and i know i’m bad at math, but i’m certain that 30 is quite a bit less than 100.
i read a book earlier this week. i started a new book today. granted, the one i started today is for book club, but at least it keeps me reading! it actually makes me sad when i look at this … partially because i’m slightly ashamed that i’ve only read 30 books this year, but also because i actually enjoy reading, and i haven’t been making it a priority.

i think somewhere along the line, i needed to put down all the christian living/leadership/smart books i was reading because they weren’t edifying- they were either making me angry, or they were puffing me up. so i did, but then went too far with fiction and began to use it as an escape. if i was engrossed in the life and times of some fictional character, my hurts and fears weren’t so prominent.

we got a roku for christmas (which is the cheaper alternative to apple tv, and it works with ‘dumb’ tv’s, so WIN/WIN), which was the best adult gift i’ve ever given myself. but with it came netflix and amazon prime and BLACKLIST. man, i love that show. i started watching season 1 with a friend and got hooked. then i made sarah watch it and we FLEW through seasons 1&2. i think we’re making ourselves wait for all of season 3 and not watching it online … i could be wrong. we’ll see how strong my self control is. but now i probably watch 7-9 hours of tv a week instead of reading or being with other humans. the time relaxing with sarah is great, and i have a very hard time turning down snuggle time with my dog (exhibit a in why i’ll be single forever). i realize that the hours i spend watching tv are below average for my age bracket, but that is more than hours in a week than ever in my adult life.

is that bad? i don’t know, really. answering that would require asking myself alot more questions … like what am i watching/reading? why am i watching/reading? am i neglecting people by watching/readin? is my home in need of the attention i am giving to tv or a book? is my brain turning to mush? should i be spending the $9 on netflix every month? does watching tv actually help me relax or rest? am i filling my mind and imagination with material that makes me smarter? does the book i’m reading make me engage with the world, or hide from it? does this make me smarter, or actively make me more stupid and vapid?

am i just thinking too much? (short answer: yes. and no.) but as any time-management guru/article will tell you, there are so many hours in the day, and hours you use in one place are robbed from another. so we must prioritize! (ok, so i could have made this up, but i am pretty sure i read it somewhere.) where is the line between self-care and escapism? does this hour spent watching tv or reading relax or inform me so that i can do something else better? or does it remove me from reality and steal my brain power from things that are really important?

i get stuck in the tension between rest and work so often. i love my job … but it is intense. i use so much of my mental and emotional energy for work that i often come home spent, and don’t want to do anything else. you know what else i love? my small group. you know, those ladies that i’ve committed to discipling and walking through life with? and you know what else i love? my house. my sister. my dog. sleep.

i am so much law, and so little grace. law is safer, because it is measureable. it comes with black and white boundaries- work now, rest then. grace is beautiful, but in a terrifying sense- i do not know how to receive grace, and rest, and it is finished. law makes me feel useful, gives me value because i do something that adds to the world. law is productive. and i love little more than being productive. but productive can be sinful. productive applauds what i do and how fast i do it, and looks out of the corner of its eye at grace, just walking with the steadiness that knows its value doesn’t come from its productivity … because grace is done. grace has nothing left to prove.

law tells me that there is no room for me to read for pleasure; that watching criminal minds with my sister is time i could be spending cleaning my house or preparing materials for my upcoming trip to india. but grace says otherwise. grace says that sitting on the couch acknowledges that i’m human, and weary, and in need of rest. grace hands me the novel and helps me unclench my shoulder muscles and relax my mind so that i can find pleasure in the created thing that was a good gift from the creator.

law can take a hike.

bye, i’m gonna go read a book.

 

 

 

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the one with the links: september edition

september has been good to me. read this stuff and it can be good to you too:

this doozy of a post from hannah anderson: leveling the playing field

If we don’t invest our resources in equipping women, our hearts won’t be invested either. For a local congregation, this may mean budgeting to bring in a female speaker, hiring more women on staff, or helping women afford theological education. When resources are on the line, we’re more likely to care about the final outcome. In other words, when we place a bet, we’ll watch the game.

this album:

this barn-burner from scott sauls: the best and worst ways to take a moral stand

Taking up a cross…the radical, self-giving love kind that Jesus spoke about…was a deadly endeavor in the Roman Empire. Eleven of Jesus’ twelve disciples died as martyrs because they took up a cross, having assumed on themselves all of the costs, risks, and inconveniences of love.

The early church also understood that love did not guarantee their safety. To the contrary, sometimes love threatened their safety.

this lip-sync battle:

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the one with the highlight reel: september edition

have we figured out yet that i’m not terribly consistent at blogging? it sure isn’t because i don’t have any thinks to share! i have a lot of thinks, i just don’t have a lot of time to write the thinks. so basically, my head could explode at any moment from all the thinks i’ve been thinking. (i’m tired just looking at that sentence.) but today is the last day of september, and it has been a pretty good month. so many reasons to smile and thank jesus for!

smallgroupgenerations copyfirst, (and this is technically from august 29, but it is my blog, so i do what i want) this. you guys, this photo represents God’s faithfulness to me on so many levels. when i started my undergrad degree at age 21, i asked God to bring me younger students to disciple. he has never stopped answering that prayer. when i moved to north carolina 4 years ago, i was single and childless (oh, yeah … i still am) and thinking often and deeply about the idea of progeny and legacy. a friend spoke wisely into my anxiety: “those we disciple are our spiritual progeny. our legacy isn’t necessarily the children we birth- discipleship makes us spiritual midwives in that we get to be part of new birth. discipleship makes us mothers as we shepherd other women deeper into the faith.” i’ve led small groups before, both adult and student groups, and been blessed to disciple a number of women in one-to-one relationships- but recent events have reminded me of my wise friend’s words. i attended my church’s small group leader conference with my apprentice leader (far left), and we sat with my apprentices from last year (2nd and 3rd from left) and a woman from their group who is starting a new small group (far right). this new leader looked across the table at me and told me “you’re my grandma!”. i won’t lie, it took me a hot minute to understand what she was saying … and in less than a hot second, i was ugly-crying (all the emotions). i am a mess. yes, i love leading … sometimes i’m even good at it. but i’m a mess. and these women have been under my leadership during some of the messiest and darkest seasons of my life- seasons that i didn’t think would bear any fruit. and yet … i’m a grandma. God’s good that way.

famapplepicking copywe went to visit the fam earlier this month and got to do one of my favorite things: APPLE PICKING! i love fall … my birthday, cooler weather, everything apple and all the pumpkin! our chinese sister had never been to an apple orchard before, so it was really special to be there for her introduction to fall in virginia. the girls all wore flannel, and we just loved being together. arent’t my parents the cutest?!

beth copywhile i was home, i got to celebrate my beautiful friend beth’s wedding. i’ve been friends with her for over 7 years, and i absolutely love the woman that she has become. beautiful inside and out! we have walked together through dark seasons, broken relationships, and distance, and i’m thankful to have been there to cry and rejoice as she pledged to follow Christ alongside a good man. plus, it was a good excuse to wear a pink dress and gaze open-mouthed at the show the blue ridge mountains were putting on that day 🙂

the j.lo and i celebrated a year of #pennythewarriorprincess being a linton! love that pup.

we also switched bedrooms- i don’t think we’ll be making ‘the great migration’ an annual thing, but it was good to look at our home through new eyes.

last friday was monthly ‘nest family dinner. we made homemade pizza, and laughed til we nearly peed ourselves.

i celebrated 5 months of working at my new job! it stretches me, terrifies me, and delights me all at once.

so long, september. you’ve been kind.

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the one that God wants me to see

remember how we were talking about the way we start thinking about something, and suddenly that thing is EVERYWHERE?

well, it’s still happening.

God, in His unfathomable goodness (and impeccable sense of humor), keeps bringing little things before me … whether it’s a blog post, a magazine article, a text from a friend, a remark in passing, a weird dream … anything, really.  today its been text messages and this article from sara hagerty:

It would have been easier to shut myself off to these mothers or to shut myself off to hope. Either option would provide a reprieve (because how else do you grapple with unmet, God-given desire and a room where you’re kept waiting?).

Everything in me wanted to shove down hope.

……..

Hope cracks us open to that unseen—to the place where God dwells.

Hope—when it’s foolish and unlikely and you have more than a dozen physical reasons not to hope—is the entry point into a life of keeping your eyes locked on an unseen God while living in the everyday reality that doesn’t yet match that for which you’re praying.

To hope that He can do the impossible while also recognizing that He may sovereignly choose not to leaves us in the unique position of reaching for the emotions residing in His heart. Hope opens up new, broken-yet-faithful ways to approach the almighty God.

Hope moves us from intellectually relating to Him as a transactional God, to sitting on His lap and calling Him Daddy. This perspective shift, birthed from holding on to tenuous hope, may be the very reason He keeps us in that waiting room.

then there was also thisfrom sarah bessey (the sara(h)s apparently write allthegoodstuff): 

Barbara Kingsolver wrote in her book, Animal Dreams, “The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.”

These days, that sounds a lot like Hebrews 11 to me. So right now I think faith is figuring out what I hope for – redemption, wholeness, shalom, justice, love, life, one small baby to live and not die, all of it – and then fearlessly living under that roof.

 

hopeful. fearless. words i don’t usually use to describe myself. but oh, how i want them to be true.

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the one where you meet penny.

guys, its fall. officially. i even wore boots today.

we’re down to three weeks between me and the bestdayoftheyearotherthanchristmas (aka my birthday).

my sister and i are now the proud co-parents to #pennythewarriorprincess- she came home with us from the wake county animal shelter three weeks ago, and its safe to say she has us wrapped around her sweet, spotted paws. she’s kinda the cutest dog EVER.

photo (1)

these are happy things! another thing that makes my heart happy is when i get to think all the thinks- so here’s some thinks i’ve been thinking.

this post from hannah anderson: college girls: education, imago dei, and the gospel

Her entire experience of Christianity was based in her relationship to a husband or father and NOT in relationship to Christ.

This is not simply an area of misunderstanding. This is a line of thinking that represents a much deeper, much more insidious problem. One that boarders on heresy because it distorts, and at times rejects, a key doctrine of the gospel: The doctrine of imago Dei.

The doctrine of imago Dei teaches that every human being, every man and woman, every boy and, yes, every girl is made in God’s image, destined to reflect His character and to represent Him on this earth. Our core identity comes from God’s identity. Pay attention: imago Dei is not simply a starting point for other doctrines, nor is it simply a means of ascribing equal worth to men and women (although it does). No, imago Dei is the most basic paradigm for how we understand our existence.

It is a truth that runs through the warp and weave of the entire Scripture. It informs everything about the gospel—what we were created to be, what sin is, how redemption happens, and what we will one day become. It is also the basis on which Jesus Christ, the God-Man, can redeem us. Simply put, the truth of imago Dei IS creation, justification, sanctification, and glorification all in one package.

And if you mess with it, you mess with the gospel.

another incredibly helpful piece from THE brad hambrick: differentiating mourning from wallowing in depression-anxiety

There are many things that unhealthy wallowing and healthy mourning have in common. It can be easier to confuse one from the other than many people think. The person who thinks he is “working through” his pain may be wallowing in self-pity. Those who try to rouse their friend out of self-pity may be rushing them through legitimate mourning.

this post from wendy alsup made me stand up and holler: the third way on gender

But what if all the verses on women actually work together in conjunction? And what if they work in conjunction with everything else in Scripture as well? There is a third way on gender, and I’d argue it’s actually the Biblical way – the way that keeps all the verses, reading them all in light of the redemption story. It starts with creation, men and women as image bearers of God. It understands the fall and the impact of sin on both genders. And it capitalizes on redemption, Jesus’ atonement for our sin that equips us to once again be image bearers of God. I envision a third way that centers around redemptive image bearing.

wrap your head around this: 

this whole album from phillip phillips: 

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the one where i’m being followed.

sometimes hope tastes like a pumpkin spice latte.

fall is my favorite season (duh). its tastes, textures, and scents delight me- a hot, pumpkiny drink warming my throat, digging out my favorite scarves, the crispness of the air as the leaves change … fall gives me much to look forward to. and looking forward has not been an easy thing lately; but the subtle signs that fall is coming are simultaneously subtle signs that maybe- just maybe- i won’t be this way forever. fall seems to be bringing me the potential for hope on its pumpkin-spice scented breeze.

recently i posted a list of things i’d been reading about depression, and this is the point where i make a ‘part 2’ of that list. there are SO MANY reasons i’m thankful for my church (seriously. so many.), but one of them is our counseling pastor, brad hambrick. he’s a gifted counselor and seeks to use that gift and training to build up the church. he has written much lately on the subject of depression-anxiety, and i’ve come away from his blog both enlightened and encouraged.

there are a couple of posts that have been exceptionally helpful and encouraging for me:

http://www.bradhambrick.com/7-factors-that-contribute-to-the-impact-of-depression-anxiety/

http://www.bradhambrick.com/6-changes-in-lifestyle-that-add-to-the-impact-of-depression-anxiety/

and a really great evaluation tool:
http://www.bradhambrick.com/online-depression-anxiety-evaluation/

i’m eager to attend several upcoming seminars that brad is leading on depression-anxiety- you can find the info and links to RSVP here: http://www.bradhambrick.com/events/ (holler if you’re coming, and i’ll save you a seat!)

i was reading psalm 23 today- must’ve been the thousandth time!- but something about verse 6 has stuck with me all day: “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.” 

surely. surely is an abverb that means firmly; unerringly; without missing, slipping; undoubtedly, assuredly, or certainly; inevitably or without fail. surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me. another version says that ‘your love chase[s] after me’ and i love this image of our father, in all his fatherly-ness pursuing us. this has been nearly impossible to believe, much less see. but today, for right now, the taste of pumpkin spice bears the taste of the truth.

surely goodness and unfailing love are following me. and now i want to follow them. 

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the one with lots of links

two days after my last post, robin williams took his life.  i was sitting on the loveseat at a friend’s house- a bunch of girls from my small group were just sitting around, talking and sharing interweb things we had come across lately when someone saw the news on twitter and told us.

it came out that he had been dealing with depression for quite some time.  people were asking ‘how could someone who brought that much joy to people and made people laugh so hard be depressed?”.  i didn’t need to ask that question, because i knew.

the blogosphere lit up like a christmas tree with everyone’s two cents about depression and suicide and medication and allthethings.  there were some awful things written, some of them by well-meaning, professing christians (let’s give them the benefit of the doubt).  but they were still awful.  there were also some great things written, and those are the ones i want to focus on. regardless of personal opinion about robin williams, hopefully his death has caused us to rethink how we look at people and the assumptions we make about the state of their hearts.  hopefully this has made us reexamine what we think about depression and seriously reframe that conversation.

i guarantee that you know someone who is depressed.  (if you’re reading this, you know me … so that’s at least one.)  hopefully the links below will give you a little insight and help you think about and converse with us in ways that don’t make us want to crawl back under our rocks and die.  so here jus go:

Depression: the Dark Night of Body and Soul (from halee gray scott)

“Depression is telling you something that is wrong,” my doctor said. “And when it goes untreated, it’s almost impossible to cure apart from community support and medication because it creates changes in our brain and body.” 

This Demon Only Comes Out By Prayer and Prozac

” … it is clear that we must jettison any simplistic understanding of the complex interaction between brain and body as a matter of individuals choosing to either sinfully wallow in mental illness or righteously embrace freedom in Christ. Similarly, we must also not succumb to a materialistic view that defines people stuck in mental illness solely as victims of circumstance.”

depression and common grace (from jared wilson, a pastor and author in vermont) [GO READ ALL HIS STUFF. LIKE RIGHT NOW. FOR REAL FOR REAL.]

The first thing we may say about the bigness of Jesus is that he is big enough to help us in many ordinary means. Many Christians have adopted the unfortunate posture of Job’s friends, adding more discouragement to those discouraged in depression by urging them not to seek help except via spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible study. These are certainly the most important prescriptions for any of us!

The fuller truth, however, is that while Jesus is enough, his enough-ness may be manifested in our getting help from material means. These too are gifts from God, provided through the common graces of scientific research, academic study, pastoral giftedness, analytic method, and modern medicine.

What I mean is this: talk to a trained counselor and take the meds if they are needed. When it comes to medication, at the very least, don’t not take it out of fear of distrust of Jesus. Antidepressants may or may not help you, but discuss the options with your doctor, preferably after conferring with a clinical psychologist who is also a Christian, and if you decide they are not for you, don’t decide so because you think to take them is to deny Jesus’s ability to heal.

What the Church & Christians Need to Know About Suicide & Mental Health (from ann voskamp)

… your mind can feel like it’s burning up at all the edges and there’s never going to be any way to stop the flame. Don’t bother telling us not to jump unless you’ve felt the heat, unless you bear the scars of the singe.

Don’t only turn up the praise songs but turn to Lamentations and Job and be a place of lament and tenderly unveil the God who does just that — who wears the scars of the singe.

Christians Can’t Ignore the Uncomfortable Reality of Mental Illness (from amy simpson, via christianity today)

When we respond in these ways, we make ourselves irrelevant to people who need our help. We send the message that our faith has no answer or explanation for this kind of suffering. We suggest there is an easy answer to their suffering, yet it remains elusive to them for some reason, probably because they don’t deserve it and we do. We imply that God himself is ready to walk away from people in pain. All this from people who mean well but just don’t know what to do.

when depression comes back (from addie zierman)

In the sterile, fluorescence of the exam room, I cried while the doctor asked me questions.

“Am I going to have to be on these damn pills for the rest of my life?” I asked.

“Maybe,” she said. “Maybe not. It’s different for everyone, but it’s okay if you do.”

deal gently with bruised reeds (from derek rishmawy) [another GOREADALLHISSTUFF.]

As Christians we are to deal gently with the broken and mournful. It is in this way we follow the Christ we have in the gospel. We follow a Messiah who was a man of sorrows, well acquainted with the painful way of the world we live in. Indeed, it’s precisely to bring comfort and relief to those who mourn that he took up his own cross; he came that he might end their suffering in his own.

the depressed christian (from megan tietz)

… the gift I will take forward from my struggles with depression is knowing on a heart-level what it is to feel that the God you love has abandoned you to the dark, I know what it is to feel staggering guilt that the family you love isn’t enough to pull you back from the dark, and I know what it is to both loathe the working of your brain and feel powerless to fix it.

It is a gift because never again will I suggest to someone that the solution is so easy. It is a gift because I can now speak to other Christians about the struggle, offering to them dignity instead of shame. It is a gift because when I read of suicide or other depression-driven acts, my first response is to sob rather than preach. And it is a gift because I can say with certainty that the LORD is close to the brokenhearted even if He feels far, far away.

when existence becomes seemingly impossible (from alan noble at christ & pop culture)

What I want to say is that life is harder than most of us will let on, and probably the deepest struggles we’ll face will be silent and petty — things like choosing to get out of bed and get dressed. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof, but so too is Christ’s Grace. So, get up, when you can, and carry on. Rest your burdens on He who loves you, and turn to the pilgrims alongside you. Some days, rising out of bed is a great act of worship.

resources on depression (from fabs harford) the cartoons on this one are amazing. click through to the links she provides for more of them … i laughed pretty hard at this (after i picked up my jaw off the floor at how accurate this depiction is).

tangled up in blue: depression and the christian life (from sammy rhodes, another GOREADALLTHETHINGS)

The image of a bruise is the perfect image for depression. Because sometimes you know how a bruise got there, and sometimes you genuinely don’t. Sometimes it’s pretty clear why you are depressed, and other times depression shows up out of the blue (pun intended) and next thing you know, to quote Bob Dylan, you’re tangled up in blue to the point where it’s hard to breathe. 

 

i’ve also been listening to this song on repeat lately- audrey assad’s voice is hauntingly beautiful and these lyrics are the cry of my heart. 

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the one where i rip off quotes.

brokenness and healing are cyclical. one always leads to the other. both lead towards a life of redemption. (andy cherry)

i am the Lord your God,who brought you up out of the land of egypt. open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. (psalm 81:10)

“child, i am telling you your story, not hers. i tell no one any story but his own.” (aslan)

God, the one and only— i’ll wait as long as he says. everything i need comes from him, so why not? he’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul … (psalm 62:1-2)

wrestling with God is its own form of closeness. it takes hanging on to really wrestle. and it’s hard to do without being face to face. (beth moore)

remember this, if any other position would be better for you, than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.  (c.h. spurgeon)

when you redeem the hard events of your past by asking how they’ve benefited you, you take away their sting. (donald miller)

these are just a handful of examples of the things stirring in me lately.  i am a collector of quotes, and more often than not, anything profound that comes out of my mouth was birthed in someone else’s words.  (hey, at least i admit it!)  i think i have my voice back, and i’m learning to use my words again- but there are still times when someone else says it better than i could.  i’m learning to be thankful for the wrestling season that has been going on for the last two years, and is still going on; and i’m learning that wrestling is not weakness! like beth moore said in her quote above, wrestling takes holding on.  “i will not let you go until you bless me!” i’ve come back to that story of jacob wrestling with the angel so many times in the last few months. that encounter left jacob with a limp for the rest of his life. it changed his name and his whole trajectory.  (here is a great blog about it, and here is the passage from genesis 32:22-31)

so basically, God’s good.  He’s writing (and has already written) my story, and is telling it to me, little by little.  He is solid rock under me, big enough for my questions and doubts.  He does everything with purpose, and doesn’t waste a thing.  He knows where i am, because he put me here.  He is good IN and BECAUSE OF pain, not in spite of it.  He is the source of joy, and is even now poised to pour it out on me- if i would open my mouth to receive it.

if you see me walking around with my mouth hanging open, now you know why.

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